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Herbal Medicine

Western Herbal Medicine

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Herb Reference ~ English to Latin Name

Herb Reference ~ Latin to English Name

Herbal Medicine Terminology A-B

Herbal Medicine Terminology C-N

Herbal Medicine Terminology 0-Z

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Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine Terminology Continued… C-N

Calmative: Herbs that are soothing, sedating-(see also nerviness).

Cardiac Tonic: Herbs that promote circulation when there is a weak heart. Should always be used while under the care of a trained herbalist. motherwort, rosemary, hawthorn, linden, mistletoe.

Carminative: Herb that helps to prevent cramping, bloating, and gas from occurring in the intestines. Examples: chamomile, caraway, aniseed, dill, coriander, fennel, peppermint, and spearmint, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and catnip.

Cathartic: Causes evacuation of the bowels. A cathartic may be either mild (laxative) or vigorous (purgative). Examples are: figs, prunes, olive oil (laxatives), senna, castor oil, and aloe vera.

Cephalic: Refers to diseases affecting the head and upper part of the body.

Cholagogue: Herb that stimulates the flow of bile from the liver and gall bladder. Examples: balmony, fringetree, goldenseal, licorice, wild yam, barberry, dandelion root.

Condiment: Enhances the flavor of food.

Cordial: a stimulating medicine or drink.

Decongestant: For relieving congestion (see expectorant). Examples: mullein, lobelia, wild cherry, licorice, ginger.

Demulcent: An herb rich in mucilage which soothes, protects, and relieves the irritation of inflamed mucous membranes. (Such as the stomach, throat, lungs, esophagus, bowel and urinary tract lining). Examples: barley, licorice, plantain, marshmallow, slippery elm, arrowroot, fenugreek, irish moss, iceland moss.

Dentifrice: For cleaning teeth and gums.

Deobstruent: Removes obstructions by opening the natural passages or pores of the body.

Depurative: Tends to purify and cleanse the blood (same as alterative).

Detergent: Cleanses boils, ulcers and wounds on the skin. Examples include: marigold, chickweed, and goldenseal.

Diaphoretic: Promotes sweating and increases perspiration by dilating surface capillaries. Assists in the elimination of waste matter through the skin. Helps to break a fever and chills; eliminates surface toxins. (See sudorific). Examples: bonset, yarrow, cayenne, garlic, peppermint, ginger, basil, cardamom, elderflowers, cinnamon, ginger, chamomile and spearmint.

Digestives: Assists the stomach and intestines in normal digestion. Examples: coriander, cumin, meadowsweet, peppermint, fennel, chamomile and turmeric.

Disinfectant: Destroys disease germs, pathogenic microbes (that cause communicable diseases), and noxious properties of fermentation.

Diuretic: Herbs which promote the production and secretion of urine, many of which positively support the function of the urinary tract. Examples: dandelion leaf, corn silk, couchgrass, parsley piert, bearberry, buchu, cleavers, elderflowers, yarrow, celery seed, parsley.

Emetic: Induces vomiting. 

Emmenagogue: Herb that brings on menstruation, help to regulate, normalize and tone the female reproductive system, assist to build the blood. Examples are: dong quai, jasmine, peony, rose, vitex, black cohosh, blue cohosh, false unicorn, red raspberry.

Emollient: A remedy that is used externally to soften, protect and soothe the skin. Examples: oils, marshmallow, plantain, flaxseed, chickweed, honey, fenugreek, comfrey, irish moss, oatmeal.

Exhilarant: Herbs that enliven and cheer the mind.

Expectorant: Herbs which help liquefy, loosen and remove thick mucous from the lungs, quiet a cough and provide a tonic effect on the nervous system. Examples: white horehound, coltsfoot, wild cherry bark, mullein, elecampane, elderflowers, thyme, hyssop, irish moss, and lobelia.

Febrifuge: Reduces body temperature and fever. (Another term for antipyretic and refrigerant). Examples: elderflower, peppermint, boneset and yarrow.

Galactogogue: Herbs which increase breast milk secretion in lactating moms. Examples: goat's rue, nettles, red raspberry, aniseed, fenugreek, cumin, fennel, milk thistle, basil, caraway, vervain.

Germicide: Destroys germs and worms. (See disinfectant.)

Germifuge: Expels germs. (See germicide.)

Hemostatic: Astringent herbs which assist to stop bleeding. Examples: ladies mantle, shepherd's purse, red raspberry, yarrow, american cranesbill, oak, witch hazel, tormentil, cinnamon, bayberry, american cranesbill, oak, witch hazel, tormentil.

Hepatic: Promotes the tone, strength and activity of the liver and increases the secretion of bile. Example: dandelion, milk thistle, boldo, gentian, yellow dock, wild indigo, blue flag, fringetree, and golden seal.

Hypnotic: Tends to produce sleep.

Laxative: Herb that acts to promote evacuation of the bowels. Examples: licorice, aloe, buckthorn, flax seed, psyllium, rhubarb, senna, butternut, blueflag, cape aloe, yellow dock, figs, prunes, cascara. There are gentle, non habit forming herbal laxatives and stimulating laxatives. The stimulating laxatives should not be used long term.

Lithotriptic: Causing the dissolution or destruction of stone formation in the bladder or kidneys. Examples, hydrangea, buchu, stone root, arjuna.

Mucilaginous: Herbs that have a soothing effect on inflamed mucous membranes. Examples include comfrey, fenugreek, Iceland moss, irish moss, marshmallow.

Nervine: A general term for a group of herbals that are nerve relaxants, agents which calm and soothe the nerves, reduce tension and anxiety, nerve stimulants and nerve tonics. Examples: ashwagandha, oats, st. john's wort, vervain, skullcap, passion flower, jamacian dogwood, chamomile, motherwort, lemon balm, californian poppy, lavender, hops, damiana.

Nerve stimulant: agents which bring vitality to the body. Examples include: siberian ginseng, oatstraw, damiana, vervain.

Nerve Tonic: invigorating to, support, restore, strengthen and protect the nervous system. Examples include: wood betony, damiana, oats, st. john's wort, and skullcap.


Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional in a clinic environment nor is it intended to treat or claim to treat illness.


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© 2009 Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist
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